The global coronavirus pandemic has seen a huge shift in learning from in the classroom to online. This has caused a huge issue for some of the state-run universities in Pakistan, who simply do not have the money to immediately move their teaching to an online format. There have also been worries about the quality of teaching that is available online, that is, it doesn’t match up to the quality of more traditional ‘in-person’ teaching methods.
However, once the teething problems that are currently being experienced by institutions in getting their classes online have been resolved, conducting learning online may actually be beneficial to both students and teachers.
If seminars and lectures are conducted online rather than in a classroom, there can be greater flexibility in the time that these sessions take place. Scheduling classroom time in a bricks-and-mortar university can be a logistical nightmare because you have to consider all of the other groups who want to use the space at the same time as you. If you remove the need for a physical space, then you can schedule the class for a time that suits both the teacher and the students. This allows the scope to schedule classes outside of the usual working hours, for example. This flexibility will entice more students with other commitments to study.
You Choose Your Environment
The space in which learning takes place impacts on the ability of students to learn. Unfortunately, the ideal learning environment may differ from person to person. The more extroverted student may relish the idea of working in a noisy and dynamic group setting, whereas the more introverted among us can probably think of nothing worse. We would prefer to work in a quiet and calm environment that would probably send other people to sleep!
When learning takes place online, the student chooses where to take the class and what environment they are in. This gives them the freedom to design a learning environment that is right for them and helps them to get as much from their education as possible.
Increased Networking Opportunities
It might sound a little counterintuitive to say that students can experience a better networking experience by moving their learning online, and away from other students. However, conversations held online can often be more productive because they are more deliberate. If you are specifically seeking someone out to speak to them online then you will make sure that you make the most of that experience, whereas in person you can often be distracted by thinking about what you are going to have for lunch!
There have also been reports that students with ADSs (autism spectrum disorders) thrive in an online learning environment because they are able to have a greater level of agency and control over their social interactions.
With care and thoughtful curriculum planning, even the most unlikely of specialisms can be taught online. For example, Wilkes University offers an online adult gerontology nurse practitioner degree. By becoming experts in clinical placements, Wilkes is able to provide students with the 500 hours of supervised placements that they need in order to qualify, at a site that is aligned with the required area of study and is in the student’s preferred locality. They also organize all of the necessary placement documents so that the student doesn’t have to. This sort of extra care makes online learning a truly viable alternative to a bricks-and-mortar university.
Learn While You Work
Learning online can ultimately be better for a student’s career than leaving the workplace and returning to education because it means that the student can retain the momentum that they are building while working and also earning an additional qualification at the same time. The combination of good work experience and a good education is an incredibly powerful one.
Students who study and work at the same time learn valuable skills such as timekeeping, organization, prioritization, and how to effectively focus on what they are doing. They have to in order to fit it all in! Prospective employers are aware of this, and as a result, will look more favorably on a candidate who had studied part-time while working. Plus, the mere fact that a person has managed to study and work at the same time shows a hard-working character, which employers value.
This new shift towards online learning is a fantastic opportunity for people with family commitments and limited finances to be able to access an education that they may not otherwise be able to. The whole population benefits from this because it means that we have a new pool of hard-working and talented individuals entering important job roles who might not have been able to in the past because of their personal circumstances. This means that online and flexible learning truly levels the playing field, and is a huge step forwards for equality.